RemixOS: Honeymoon is over, Annulment granted

I tried, I really did, but I just can’t live with RemixOS.

At first, I was swayed by the beauty of it.  It’s so clean and neat and functional, and access to the Play Store means so many apps are available already.

But.  Try to set up printing.  Or certain other services.

Even when they work, you either (a) pay for them, or (b) look at ads.  Whereas, as a user of Ubuntu (or any other Linux distro, really) you get the same things for free with no ads.

The honeymoon is over, it seems.

The only thing I’ve found that it’s good for is a set-top box; the streaming apps for various video/TV services are really pretty nice, and having RemixOS on a computer connected to a TV set can be a good way to enjoy them.  But that’s it, the only use case that makes sense to me.

RemixOS Survival Guide, Part 1

RemixOS is a beautiful thing.  Android on a PC, simple and fast and pretty, and all those apps!

But while it’s a nice place to visit, it still takes a bit of work to live there.  So I’m going to document, here on my blog, the things I’ve done to make my “toy” computer someplace I could actually do business.

I’m going to start this in the middle, with something I learned later that it pays to know in the beginning.  Install the 32 bit version!  Even if you have a 64-bit-capable computer, your life will be easier (at least right now) in 32 bit land.  Apps that provide native Intel libraries often do not supply 64 bit versions… apps like PrintHand or Print Hammermill.

Let’s start with installing RemixOS on your computer.  If you, like me, want RemixOS to be the only OS on the computer, then start by either making a bootable USB flash drive containing your preferred edition (i.e. 32 bit, as I explained above) or burning the image to a DVD.  I had a problem with the computer I’m using for testing being unable to boot USB… turned out it won’t boot any USB flash drive.  So I did the burning option.

Rather than explain all of this myself, I’m going to chicken out and let someone else do it.  If you want to create a bootable USB drive on Windows, you want to start following the directions at this link.  When you get to step 5 and the menu appears (the GRUB boot menu, to be exact), press TAB to pause the boot and pick up the directions below.

If you are using a modern Linux distribution, install UNetbootin from your package manager and then run it.  Tell it you are putting an ISO on your flash drive, then point it at the one you downloaded.  Again, boot from it, and at the blue GRUB menu press TAB.

Okay, so, now you should be looking at the GRUB menu with a long string of garbage at the bottom.  That long string of garbage is the boot command string which tells Linux (the underlying kernel for Android) how to boot.  Without changing anything that is already there, add a space and then type in

INSTALL=1

at the end.  Press ENTER, and the RemixOS installation system will start up.

I’m assuming you want to use the entire hard drive for RemixOS.  If not, stop.  The instructions I’m about to give you will DESTROY the contents of your hard drive… if you have anything important on there, you need to back it up first.  No, I’m not going to explain how… Google for it.

If you are sure you are ready to erase that hard drive, well, here’s how you do it.  RemixOS will ask where you want to install it, and it will show you a list of the available partitions on all your hard drives.  You probably should start by choosing the option to change partitions, then choose your /dev/sda (the first hard drive).  When it asks if you want to use GPT, say no.  The next screen that comes up will be cfdisk, which will allow you to delete your partitions and create new ones.

After erasing your partitions, create a single partition for the entire hard drive, make it bootable, and then choose the Write option to save it.  Finally, choose Quit to move on.

RemixOS will ask about formatting the drive.  Choose ext3 or ext4 as the partition type (I’m not sure that it makes much difference which one you choose; ext4 is a bit better, technically).  You’ll be warned that you are going to erase the hard drive, but don’t kid yourself, you already did that in the last step.

The operating system will now install.  Walk away and let it work.

More later… look for Part 2, coming soon!

 

 

Installing SuperSU on Remix OS 2.0

I’ve been playing with Remix OS on a six-year-old Intel-based computer lately.  It has 2 GB of RAM (right now, but I do intend to put a bit more in it) and a 320 GB hard drive, and I have to say I haven’t been this excited about an operating system in a long time.  It is limited, certainly, but it is beautiful.

So I wanted to tinker with the power management, but for that I needed root access.  I installed Remix OS in “writable /system” mode, and so with a quick Ctrl-Alt-F1 I’m looking at a root prompt… but apps can’t access root that way.  For that you need something like SuperSU, which I run on my rooted tablet.

I’ll admit right now, if there is a way to boot into recovery mode on Remix OS, I haven’t found it yet.  But it turns out that, by hacking on some procedures for rooting other Android devices, you can still make this work.

First, download the current stable SuperSU zip file from here:

http://download.chainfire.eu/supersu-stable

Unzip it on your Remix OS device.  I just switched to the shell on the first VT and did it, but you can do it however you like.

From that first VT prompt, you’ll need to put the new su binary in place.  Assuming you unpacked the SuperSU file into a folder named SuperSU in the Downloads folder, you need to do this:

cd /system/xbin
mv su su.orig
cp /sdcard/Downloads/SuperSU/x64/su .
chmod 4751 su

NOTE that these instructions are for a 64 bit system.  For 32 bit, you need to substitute x86 for the x64 above see the EDIT section below.

Now switch back to the GUI (Ctrl-Alt-F7) and reboot the system.

Once the system has rebooted, open up your file manager and find the SuperSU folder (under Downloads, if you did it like I did).  Inside that folder you’ll find a folder named common, and inside that a file named Superuser.apk.  Double-click it to install.

After installing, start SuperSU.  It will tell you it needs to update; do that, and (with any luck) it will tell you it was successful, and that you should reboot again.  Do that, and again with any luck,  you are done!

Disclaimer:  This worked for me.  Your mileage may vary.

EDIT 6/9/2016 — I had trouble with apps that didn’t like the 64 bit RemixOS, so I scrubbed the system and installed the 32 bit version.  When I did, the instructions above did not work… the su binary doesn’t seem to be right for the system, but the su.pie file in the same x86 folder does.  So here are the updated commands to install on a 32 bit system:

cd /system/xbin
mv su su.orig
cp /sdcard/Downloads/SuperSU/x64/su.pie su
chmod 4751 su

Killing GWX (as in, I really don’t want Windows 10)

FOR THE NON-TECHNICAL:

So you’re happy with your Windows 7, 8, or 8.1 computer, and you just don’t want Windows 10 to install on it?  Got your fix right here.  Right-click the following link and choose Save Target As or Save Link As, then save it somewhere you can find it (in the Downloads folder or on your Desktop are good choices):

http://newcenturycomputers.net/user/KillGWX.reg

Now find the file where you downloaded it, and double-click it.  You will be asked up to four different times if you are really sure you want to run it… each question will be different, but in each case you need to go forward.  The last dialog will tell you the process is a success, and provide an OK button.

After you click the final OK, restart your computer in the normal way.  This should be enough to prevent Windows 10 from installing on your computer.  Note if you have msn.com as your home page, you will still see ads telling you that you should upgrade… just ignore them, or change to a different home page if it gets really annoying.

ORIGINAL POST:

I don’t use Windows myself, but I do sell and support computers that must run Windows.  Most of my customers are very fond of Windows 7, and even though its days are numbered they still want to keep using it.

When Microsoft pushed out the GWX update (KB 3035583, if you care), things became… annoying… for those people I just mentioned.  There’s no apparent way to turn that nonsense off.  The only solution I found in the early days was to kill the program, then change the privileges on the folder C:\Windows\System32\GWX and delete it.  So I went around doing just that.

And Microsoft re-issued the update, and they all came back.  Gah.

I searched again, and after extensive revisions of my Google search parameters I finally found a page on Charles Allen’s blog where he explained the secret.  But he gave the steps in the manual mode, and I’m too lazy for that.

So here’s a registry patch to do the job.

http://newcenturycomputers.net/user/KillGWX.reg

Mostly this is here so I can find it later… as usual for Notebook entries.

UPDATE:  In addition to the anti-GWX registry entry, I’ve become aware of the group policy option entitled “Turn off the Upgrade to the latest version of Windows.”  Even with GWX disabled by the aforementioned option, Windows Update may still offer Windows 10 as a “regular” Windows update (especially now that it is “Recommended” instead of merely “Optional”).  This new policy option just sets a registry entry, of course, and I’ve added that registry entry to my KillGWX.reg and uploaded it to the location above.

I found this information here:

Turn off the Upgrade to the latest version of Windows GPO

It’s been there for months, but it’s darned hard to find with an ordinary Google search; when I tried to find it again to post it here, I kept finding ways to block ALL Windows updates (not a good idea) rather than the specific upgrade block I was wanting.  So as usual, I’m posting it here so I can find it again.